For the first time this season, Chase Elliott took to the track in the Hooter’s version of his No. 9 Chevy on for the Pennzoil 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and recorded his first top-10 finish of the 2019 racing season on March 3.
In a race that was significant for the lack of caution flags, with only the two scheduled competition restarts being waved, Elliott started from the 12th position and spent most of his day trying to maneuver through the pack as he ultimately crossed the finish just inside the top-10, placing ninth.
The most significant event of the weekend for the Elliott team came during the final round of qualifying on March 2 when, after having made the final group to secure a shot at the pole position, a lap penalty disqualified the original qualifying time and forced the team into the 12th slot.
With the addition of a front splitter to the car’s aerodynamic package, the Pennzoil 400 was the first race of the season to feature 100 percent of the changes made to the Monster Energy Cup Series by NASCAR, and the changes were noticeable on the track in reduced speeds and larger groupings of drivers as the cars fought to find clean air.
The increased challenge of moving through the pack turned the final laps of the race into a sprint between the few cars that had managed to break away and featured a battle to the finish between Team Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.
Logano, the defending Cup Series Champion, and his No. 22 Ford Mustang GT, fittingly decked out in Pennzoil yellow, held off a hard-charging Keselowski to take home his first checkered flag of 2019.
Elliott and the rest of NASCAR will be back in action at the ISM Speedway in Avondale, Ariz. for the TicketGuardian 500 March 10.